Ontario reaches deal with Catholic teachers union 0
Education Minister Laurel Broten (Sun files)
Students in Ontario’s English Catholic schools are set to return to class this fall but the provincial government has yet to strike a deal with teachers and staff in other boards.
The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) reached a deal with provincial negotiators early Thursday on a compensation framework which includes a two-year, zero-percent pay hike and changes to the teacher’s generous sick day program.
The remaining 17 teacher and school staff unions have refused to stay at the provincial discussion tables, and members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) have voted overwhelmingly to support a “one-day walkout” to protect their collective agreements.
NDP MPP Gilles Bisson said the government shouldn’t run victory laps because its inked one deal; there’s still a rough road ahead negotiating contracts with the remaining teachers and school staff.
Tory MPP Lisa MacLeod, whose party supports a legislated pay freeze for all public sector workers, says the OECTA deal has also seriously strained the government’s relationship with the Ontario Catholic District School Boards which she said had significant issues with the negotiations and were not at the table when the agreement was reached.
The Dalton McGuinty government is proud of its record of no lost teaching days to labour strife, but that record could be smashed this fall if it can’t resolve the on-going disputes.
“I want to make it clear that we remain willing to work with our other education partners at the provincial level,” Education Minister Laurel Broten said Thursday. “I invite the other unions and trustee associations on behalf of school boards to engage in meaningful discussions with each other and with the government.”
The McGuinty government, struggling with a large deficit, has demanded concessions from teachers including a freeze on the salary grid which allows instructors to move up the pay chart as they add experience and qualifications.
Instead, OECTA negotiated three unpaid days off in 2013/14 - to be taken on regularly scheduled professional development days on Oct. 11, Dec. 20 and March 7 - in exchange for allowing the newest teachers to keep advancing on the salary grid.
The McGuinty government is also seeking an end to a sick day plan that allows many teachers to take up to 20 days a year in sick time, and carry over up to 200 unused days for a “retirement gratuity” of up to $47,000.
The OECTA deal would see the already accumulated sick time “grandparented,” but going forward teachers would get a standard 10 sick days a year and be eligible for a short-term leave and disability plan.
“This is a historic and transformational agreement that has been reached between the government and OECTA,” Education Minister Laurel Broten said Thursday. “It tackles the issues that we set out to tackle when we began these provincial discussions - that we could not no longer have 200 banked sick days ,that we needed to see zero and zero (pay hikes), that we needed to put the education system on a sustainable footing.”
OECTA President Kevin O’Dwyer said his association stayed at the provincial table after all the others walked away because he was concerned that the McGuinty government would impose a deal on his members.
OECTA was able to protect young teachers who would have been disproportionately hurt by a pay grid freeze, while helping the government meet its fiscal goals to cap overall teacher compensation, he said.
“In all my years of bargaining - and I hate to admit it, 20 - these were some of the most difficult negotiations I’ve encountered,” O’Dwyer said, who added he believes the deal is fair and reasonable.
OECTA will still negotiate with local school boards, using the provincial Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as the framework.
Who’s Signed a Deal With Province
- Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA)
And 17 More To Go:
- Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario
- Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation
- Association des Enseignants Franco-Ontariens
- Canadian Union of Public Employees
- Association of Professional Student Services Personnel (APSSP)
- Canadian Auto Workers (CAW)
- Canadian Office and Professional Employees’ Union (COPE)
- Custodial and Maintenance Association
- Dufferin Peel Education Resource Workers Association
- Essex County Skilled Trades
- Halton District Educational Assistants Association
- Huron Perth Custodians Labourers’
- International Union of North America (LIUNA) Maintenance,
- Construction and Skilled Trades Council Media Support Specialists Association (MSSA)
- Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union (OPSEU)
- Peel Education Resource Facilitators Service Employees International Union Unite Here
- Waterloo Region Education Assistants Association